Archives for November 2015

For Autism Initiative, Sesame Street Looks to Our Neighborhood

TV’s “Sesame Street” has long been populated with flightless birds, singing frogs, cuddly monsters and children of all sorts. And as the number of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum continues to grow in the world at large, they are coming to Sesame Street as well. To help out with the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” initiative, Sesame Workshop turned to a neighborhood in Sherman Oaks, and the students at Exceptional Minds Studio. The studio is a nonprofit vocational center where young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders train for careers in visual effects and digital animation....

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This Holiday Shopping Keeps Vacation Dreams Afloat

Since 2006, Autism on the Seas has organized and staffed vacations (on cruises and at resorts on land) for families with children and adults with a variety of special needs – from autism to Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other types of challenges. Now the organization has launched a nonprofit arm that will help fund these vacations as well. The Autism on the Seas Foundation will award varying amounts of financial assistance to children and adults with special needs, their caregivers and immediate family members to fund vacations on cruises staffed by Autism on the Seas staff. These staff members...

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Wilshire the Fire Dog Will Play ‘Nana’ in Peter Pan Panto

Wilshire The L.A.F.D. Fire Dog will play the role of “Nana” in this year’s Panto at The Playhouse production of Peter Pan snd Tinker Bell - A Pirates Christmas for one day only, Dec. 20, at The Pasadena Playhouse. Wilshire, a Dalmatian, has served as the Los Angeles City Fire Department Fire Dog since he was taken in as a rescue puppy by the firefighters at the Wilshire Boulevard fire station on St. Patrick’s Day, 2006. The Pasadena Fire Department will participate in Wilshire’s appearance at the Los Angeles event by providing a fire truck for photo opportunities with Wilshire...

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December Family Theater

December brings an abundance of Los Angeles events for theater lovers – and not all of it includes Sugar Plum Fairies. You can see Tinker Bell and Snoopy, gamblers, Grinches and many other interesting characters on L.A stages this season. Scrooge and Co. A Christmas Carol is a traditional favorite play to see this time of year, and Southern California is lucky to be home to two popular, long-running productions. A Noise Within (3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena; will stage this classic for the fourth year Dec. 5-23. This production is an original adaptation by company co-artistic director Geoff...

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Olympians Help Students Go for the Gold

When Mom or Dad suggests setting down the Xbox and getting some exercise or bypassing a soda in favor of water, a child is as likely to roll his eyes or put up a fight as he is to comply. But when the same message comes from an Olympic gold medalist or a Paralympian who has defied the odds, the kid might listen – and even start to change his fitness habits. That’s been the experience of the athletes, P.E. instructors and students who take part in the Ready, Set, Gold! (RSG!) program at more than 60 Los Angeles Unified...

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Tree Makes Wishes Come True at CityWalk

Universal CityWalk and NBC4 Southern California are collaborating to present the first-ever “The Wishing Tree” event, inviting the public to pay it forward by making a wish for someone deserving. From Nov. 27 through Dec. 22, visitors to the Los Angeles attraction may place their wishes for friends and family next to the trees adorning Universal CityWalk’s “5 Towers” plaza. NBC4 viewers can also share their wishes online. Wishes will be granted live weeknights Dec. 9-23 during the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. from Universal CityWalk with longtime NBC4 Weathercaster Fritz Coleman. Those visiting The Wishing Tree are...

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Are Those Toys Safe, Ducky?

The baby board book, featuring lots of colors and textures meant to stimulate developing brains, was labeled “organic.” Josh Kasteler tested it anyway, and found that the packaging contained such a high level of phthalates – chemicals widely believed to disrupt hormone levels – that it contaminated the book as well. Kasteler, a biochemist and molecular biologist who founded Santa Monica-based Safe Ducky ( in June, tests toys and other children’s products for dangerous toxins and removes them from shelves at Safe Ducky member stores. He and Safe Ducky employees check for government-regulated toxins, wielding equipment that uses X-rays to...

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Mom’s Treat: Time to Relax

Bring a five-star spa massage to your home with Zeel Massage On Demand. Win a 60-minute in-home massage from a vetted, licensed therapist from Zeel ($99 value each, Relax and enjoy at your convenience – book as little as an hour in advance on the Zeel app or website. Zeel Massage Therapists come to you – just relax and enjoy on your own schedule! Available for start times 8am through 10:30pm, all year round. Two winners will be chosen. Enter for a chance to win by Monday, December 14 at midnight, just in time to gift it for the...

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Motherhood and Managing the Holiday Blues

Most of us have an image in our minds of the perfect family holiday: Sitting together around a table eating a delicious meal and sharing family stories, or maybe cuddled in front of the fireplace with beautiful decorations all around, exchanging gifts. But these pictures often aren’t as close to our reality as we would like. The pressure to create beautiful holiday memories, coupled with the everyday pressures of being a parent – especially a new parent – can lead to overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress, and even depression. Deborah Groening, LMFT, executive director of Well Baby Center in Mar...

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Holiday fun

Holiday Recipes From Milo and Olive

When Erin Eastland was moving to Southern California from New York in 2005, it didn’t take her long to figure out that she wanted to call Santa Monica home. It helped that she and her family scoped out the city on a Wednesday. “We came upon the farmers’ market and I was like, ‘We’re done,’” says the mom of two, who is now executive chef at Milo and Olive, a cozy restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard that serves bakery-centric breakfast, and wood-fired pizzas and small plates inspired by that very farmers’ market for lunch and dinner. Eastland and her husband, Rick,...

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